While nearing the end of an unanticipated long climb we met Nelly and Humberto. They are from Ushuaia and are on vacation in their RV. They were sitting in lawn chairs enjoying the view at an overlook. We pulled in and lay on the ground nearby, totally spent.
Turns out it’s our lucky day, they own an ice-cream shop in Ushuaia and have a freezer full of it in their RV! They shared some with us as well as two juicy oranges (a rare treat this far south), which we were tremendously grateful for because we are quickly coming to the realization that we didn’t purchase enough food in El Chaltén.
So much of our trip is chance encounters and extraordinary serendipity that we’ve almost come to consider it normal. Of course we would meet two ice-cream sharing travelers on our way up a climb, three days from the next town, when we’re short on food. Thank you Universe!
We’re also meeting many northbounders who are at the beginning of their trips. Most of them start in Ushuaia and have been on the road for about a month. They are still giddy with the excitement of starting a new adventure. The juxtaposition is remarkable. We, at the end of our journey, and they, at the beginning of theirs. For one, their gear is new and shiny. Nothing of theirs is held together with duct tape or zip ties. The other day we met a guy riding a new Surly Long Haul Trucker and I couldn’t believe our bikes ever looked that nice. His bike sparkled compared to ours. And as we chat, we see ourselves in these northbounders, as we were two years ago. And they see their future in us, seasoned travelers, gritty and worn from time on the road.
Today we ran into Emil and Johanna, a young Swedish couple, headed north on an ambitious 3-year round the world adventure. They asked for advice, words of wisdom we could share, secrets from the road. Scott and I looked at each other and then in unison we replied “lighten your load”. They each have large front and rear panniers, handlebar bags and stuff loaded on front platform racks, as well as massive dry bags strapped to the top of their rear panniers. Whew, they’re traveling heavy! They’ve already mailed home 11 kilos (24 lbs) of stuff. They’re struggling with what to give up next, everything seems so essential. We assured them that they’d figure it out on their first climb up onto the Altiplano, if not before then. Nothing like 15,000 feet to make you look at all that stuff in a new light.
Emil and Johanna, buen viaje, so many adventures await you!